Skip ahead two and a half years and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the lower court's ruling. Circuit Judge Richard A. Paez lays out a "painstakingly" detailed opinion of why the Uhms don't have standing in the federal courts. Although Judge Paez's 9,000 word, 70 paragraph, twenty-page decision (along with 26 footnotes) could be a chapter in a first year Civil Procedure class, it is Judge Betty B. Fletcher's short three-paragraph concurrence that should be the one taught to lawyers. It seems that Judge Fletcher asks a basic question of the Uhms and their counsel: "What have Uhms' counsel accomplished for the Uhms, for justice, or for the law?" Here's the entire concurring opinion from Judge Fletcher:
B. FLETCHER, Circuit Judge, concurring.I've suddenly become a big fan of Judge Fletcher.
I concur in the opinion, which carefully and painstakingly analyzes the claims. I add this concurrence simply to vent my frustration. What have Uhms' counsel accomplished for the Uhms, for justice, or for the law?
The Uhms suffered a frustrating and bureaucratic "snafu" that temporarily cost them two months' prescription costs. They filled out the forms to receive Part D prescription drug benefits from Humana. The process obviously enrolled them to the point where automatic deductions were made from their social security checks. But the other half of the process failed — their status as beneficiaries was denied and, as a consequence, the Uhms had to pay for their prescriptions. Frustrating indeed. But what to do? Make a federal case of it — start a class action where simply following the administrative appeal process would suffice? A class action all for the recovery of two months' prescriptions?
Today the Uhms receive the prescription drug benefits to which they are entitled. But not as a result of this lawsuit. The cost to the court system and to the Uhms is unconscionable. A bit of common sense and attention to the available administrative remedies should have been applied. Instead we have an opinion with endless pages of legal analysis, months of study and delay, and a determination that no benefit can be awarded to the Uhms. Counsel particularly should take heed.
[NOTE: Big thanks to Washington DC Attorney @maggieesq for tweeting me about this case. Thanks Maggie!!]